EP Review: All The Fires – The Maps

Hailing from Cornwall and encompassing four songwriters/multi-instrumentalists, All The Fires at first appear to sit comfortably alongside the recent barrage of softly spoken folk troubadours that have found favour with the music press of late. From Bon Iver to Laura Marling, folk is certainly the ‘sound of the moment’. However, within every scene there are those who simply ape those who got there first:  for every Pulp there is a Dodgy; for every Nirvana a Bush. Which brings me on to All The Fires debut EP, The Map

The Map is a well-produced, warm sounding record that is pleasant although unremarkable on the ear. Unlike much recent music to be placed in the folk-pop/alt-folk bracket none of the instrumentation feels tacked on or unnecessary here- the songs are well rounded and the instruments played beautifully. However, these songs don’t shimmer, they don’t soar and they don’t entice you. They simply exist. At best, these songs are reminiscent of Regina Spektor at her most lethargic and uninspired. At worst they sound like a b-side from The Sundays (the humdrum 90s act, not a tribute act to the far more exciting Saturdays). For a band made up of four separate songwriters, there is a real paucity of ideas within this EP’s 5 songs.

If a band wishes to succeed in the Great Folk Race of 2009 their songs must either be poignant enough to move the listener, or catchy enough to capture our attention. I’m afraid All The Fires tick neither of these boxes, and thus lag someway behind the competition. 

Words:  Mark Williamson